Posts By Brad Moore

It’s time for another installment of Free Stuff Thursday! Brad Moore here to help you win a copy of…

Frank Doorhof: Live In Boston DVD
Frank Doorhof has released his brand new Live In Boston Workshop DVD! You can pick up your copy right here, or leave a comment for your chance to win one of two copies.

Or, if you’d rather take the workshop in person, Frank is returning to Boston on March 31 to do another Why Fake It When You Can Create It workshop, right after Photoshop World DC! You can get all the info and register over at

Wildlife Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots
Check out the latest book from Laurie Excell, Wildlife Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots! Laurie takes you through equipment, camera settings, lighting, and composition to help you get the great shots of birds, bears, and other wildlife. Plus it features Laurie’s own beautiful photography!

Leave a comment for your chance to win one of two copies of this book.

Kelby Training Affiliate Program
Good news for bloggers and website owners! has partnered with Commission Junction to bring you a great affiliate program! Earn up to 35% commission on referrals!
Composition Made Easy with David Ziser is the latest addition to the library! David shows you his on-location composition techniques as he teaches how to recognize and shoot a wide variety of visual elements to create spectacular, one-of-a-kind compositions. Check it out over at!

Kelby Training Live
Coming soon to a city near you…

January 25 – Oklahoma City, OK – Photography & Photoshop CS5: From Focus to Finished with Ben Willmore

January 27 – Covington, KY – The Photographer’s Photoshop CS5 Power User Tour with Dave Cross

January 30 – Austin, TX – Light It. Shoot It. Retouch It. Live! with Scott Kelby

You can register for these and other upcoming seminars over at

OnOne Software On Sale – TODAY ONLY!
Today is the last day to take advantage of OnOne Software’s big sale! Get 20%, 30%, or even 50% off the latest versions of OnOne’s plug-ins, and even the Perfect Photo Suite which includes all seven plug-ins!

Cockpit Panos from Moose Peterson
If you’re a fan of aviation, check out these 360-degree cockpit panoramas of various warbird planes that Moose Peterson has been doing. It’s pretty cool be able to see everything in the cockpits of these planes, and even zoom in to read their checklists and instrumentation panels.

Last Week’s Winner
The winner of the free ticket to The Digital Photo Workshop in Death Valley with Rick Sammon is Tess Kauffmann! Congratulations Tess, and I know you’ll have a great time :)

That’s it for today. Leave a comment for your chance to win a copy of Frank Doorhof’s Live in Boston Workshop DVD or Laurie Excell’s Wildlife Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots!

Portrait of Lindsay Adler, Photo by Bob Trautman

10 Tips for Improving your Portfolio in 2012

New York City is filled with thousands of amazing fashion and commercial photographers, all fighting for similar clients and resources. Because of this I must constantly improve my portfolio and strive to stand out from the crowd.  Yet this is not an easy task! I need to push myself to be creative on each and every project, and find ways to make my images exciting.

I’m always striving for my next shoot to be the best shoot I’ve ever done. Yes, I like my work and portfolio but I am never ‘satisfied’… and I think that’s a good thing!

I have the best job in the entire world. Hands down. I photograph beautiful people, in beautiful clothing, in beautiful locations. No complaints about that! Yet one of the biggest challenges is always getting better and finding a way to distinguish myself. I’ve always got to be improving my portfolio and defining my style. I must find ways to stop viewers in their tracks and engage them with my images.

I frequently utilize the color red as a very aggressive and visually compelling color to help give my images impact.

Below are 10 tips that I use to improve my portfolio, and I always keep these tips in the back of my mind. They help me to weed out bad images, to challenge myself creatively, and ideally to become a better photographer. Hopefully they will help you to improve in 2012!

1. Cut Weak Images
People remember your best images. They also remember your worst images. You are much better off cutting weaker images and having fewer images in your portfolio than padding your portfolio with mediocre images. Cut, cut, cut! Having 12 incredible images in your portfolio is a lot better than having 12 incredible images plus 12 average images. Aim for impact, and cut the weakest.

This image was in my portfolio for several months. Although I liked the clean yet aggressive feel of the image, it simply was not strong enough to stay in my portfolio.

2. Get Outside Critique
When deciding which images to cut and which images to include in your portfolio, get outside critique.

Sometimes you can be too emotionally attached to your images to realize that they should be cut from your portfolio. Let’s say that you hiked 7 miles in a blizzard to photograph a beautiful mountain scene. If the image is just an average landscape, then your suffering and pain doesn’t make it any better. As my friends say, “Sometimes you have to kill your babies”… referring to photographs of course!

When you get outside critique, be sure it is from someone you trust and respect. I often get outside critique from other photographers, my photo agent, and even my mom (hobbyist photographer too!). Between the several critiques I get, I can usually determine which images have the highest impact and are most successful, as well as which images need to be cut.

3. Look at Other Photographers’ and Artists’ Work
It’s not cheating to be inspired by other photographers’ and artists’ work. You can get inspiration from anywhere. When you look at other photographers’ work, you may be inspired by the lighting, composition, styling, posing, or any number of different elements.

In fact, many of my shoots are a combination of elements from many inspiration images. I save thousands of images on my computer to help communicate (visually) my ideas to my creative team when I do a shoot. I might use lighting inspired by one image, a pose from another image, and styling inspired by another photo. In the end the photograph is 100% mine regardless of the inspiration!

Obviously it’s pointless to copy an image… if it’s already been done, then there is no point in you creating or ripping off someone else’s ideas! Yet inspiration is completely legitimate whether you get inspired by a photographer, painter, location, movie, or any other source.

This image (of an environmental activist) was inspired by the fashion photographer Tim Walker who regularly uses grand scenes and fairytale props to create striking images.

When I look at other artists’ work, I try to really analyze what’s compelling about the images and what I can do to incorporate these elements (see #9). In the image above I was inspired by the work of Tim Walker, who regularly uses fairytale props and dramatic scenes.

4. Experiment
Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and try new techniques or types of photography. If you are landscape photography, try portraits. If you love photographing at sunset, try painting with light in the middle of the night. Look at other photographers work and try different techniques. Don’t be afraid to try new things!

For example, I saw many excellent photographers who were using paint with light as a technique for painting landscapes, urban scenes and even portraits. The images were beautiful, but looked challenging. I decided to experiment with paint with light for my fashion images, and was THRILLED with the results!

After seeing many photographers utilize paint with light in their work, I decided to experiment and use this technique for my fashion photography.

5. Define Your Style, Specialize
While I urge you to experiment, eventually you want to define your style and specialize. If you’d like to make photography your profession, you don’t want a website that has portraits, landscapes, macro and fashion. You are more likely to get a job or be memorable if you have a specialty or niche.

Even if you aren’t a professional, if you wish to exhibit your work it will be more appealing to galleries when you have a cohesive body of work. People don’t remember the ‘photographer who photographers everything.’ They remember the “food photographer” or “fairytale-inspired portrait photographer”. The more you specialize, the more you will be remembered.

I go back over and edit my portfolio ALL THE TIME. I really look at the weakest images, and attempt to replace them. Next I look at the strongest images. Why are they so successful? I try to use those same successful elements in future shoots.

I personally feel my style is clean, graphic and bold. When I shoot, I try to stick to this style, either using high contrast or bright colors to emphasize my compositions and poses.

This image, shot for Papercut Magazine, fits into my style of fashion photography that is clean, graphic and eye-catching.

6. Make Mistakes
Some of my favorite images and techniques started with a ‘mistake’. We have all spent a lot of time learning the ‘rules’ of photography. Yet I often see that that images that break the rules are the ones that stand out. When I experiment I try to remember that it is okay to make mistakes, and sometimes those mistakes I like best! In fact, many photographers use these ‘mistakes’ to make their signature style.

Try adding lens flare, or motion blur, or something considered ‘wrong’ by traditional photo standards. Once when doing a shoot, someone’s clothing got in front of the lens, and it created this very interesting blur effect in the frame. Now I purposely create this blur effect, as seen in this image which recently appeared in Z!NK magazine. Sometimes ‘mistakes’ make the most interesting images.

Sometimes allowing yourself to make mistakes can help you discover truly interesting effects. Here I held colored plastic in front of the lens to create this blur effect.

7. Give Yourself Assignments
Give yourself assignments and deadlines to meet those assignments. Especially if you are not a full time photographer, it can be hard to find time to shoot for yourself. By giving yourself deadlines and assignments it gives you something to work toward and concentrate on.

When I give myself assignments, I try to analyze ‘what’s missing’ in my portfolio or what I could do to improve.

Assignments can be single words like “Red” or techniques like “Religion”.

For this image I gave myself the assignment of shooting the theme “Religion.” I decided to take the ‘religious’ warrior route and utilized a Lensbaby and Photoshop to create the final effect.

8. Enter Contests
If you are struggling to come up with self assignments, look for contests to help give you assignments. You can find contests online, in magazines and much more. They might give you subject matter to focus on. Furthermore, if you do win the contest, it helps get exposure for your work and perhaps some cool prizes.

For example, my good friend Brooke Shaden has a monthly contest on her blog. The contest themes vary but always seem to spark my creativity. Find blogs, magazines or websites with competitions and shoot to win! Ok, well if not to win at least to challenge yourself and explore your creativity!

I entered this image in the PDN’s “The Look” competition and was named one of the finalists.

9. Analyze Images
Most of us know an image we love when we see it. But do we really stop and ask why? Is it the lighting that is striking? Or is it powerful subject matter? Or do you love the composition? If you analyze photographs you can start to see which elements attract you to an image. From there, you can set the goal to incorporate these elements into your own work!

For example, I find that I love really graphic compositions and bright colors, and so I always try to incorporate this into my own work. Sometimes it happens naturally, and sometimes I make a conscious decision.

I look at the photographers I truly admire, and try to figure out what makes their work so incredible, and see if I can infuse that into my own!

10. Shoot personal work
If you are a professional or aspiring professional looking to improve your portfolio, don’t just shoot client work. Put together your own creative shoots that reflect the type of work you’d like to be hired for. This shows potential clients your creative abilities. I can almost guarantee that if you ONLY shoot when you are paid to shoot, your portfolio is suffering.

Furthermore, by shooting personal work people can see your creativity and vision and perhaps open up more opportunities. I try to shoot 1 personal project a week. When I first moved to NYC to pursue my fashion career, I dedicated each Sunday to shooting some sort of personal project, and the rest of the days to getting paid gigs. My portfolio improved 10x, and really helped kick-start my career!

This image was inspired by a Japanese artist who projected floral patterns on a face. This started as a personal project, but later ran in several international fashion magazines.

You can view more of Lindsay’s work at, keep up with her on her blog, and follow her on Twitter.

[Bill Frakes was one of the first photographers in the world, alongside Joe McNally and Corey Rich, to get his hands on the Nikon D4. Here’s his story on shooting Istanbul and Its Many Faces.]

We had an intense 10 days in Istanbul making this short documentary shooting exclusively with the Nikon D4. Exhausting and invigorating. Crazy great fun.

It’s a wonderful place. The only major city in the world spanning two continents. Divided by the Bosphorus, this place is packed with activity and people, but yet is comfortable and calm.

This is where East meets West. It is an ancient city with modern rhythms. It has been inhabited for more than 5,000 years, every stone is steeped in history — while every day new fascinations emerge combining eastern style with European flare.

I picked Istanbul because of its history. A city of one thousand names, it has been the capitol of two major civilizations. The Ottoman and the Byzantine. It was the eastern Capitol of the Eastern Roman empire. For thousands of years, it has been a cultural and religious center.

Our challenge was to really put the D4 to the test. And to challenge ourselves to extend our vision, to use this incredible new technology to not just make our lives better, but to honor the people who gave us the opportunity to have these chances by making better images.

This is photojournalism. We controlled nothing. Everything is candid. Reportage.
It’s real world solutions to real world problems.

In post we did virtually nothing to the files. We edited the video native.  On the stills we did minor corrections so that they would fit with the video when we put them together. No sharpening nor grain reductions. Some burning and dodging. Cropping. That’s pretty much it.

We used the cameras 18 hours a day for 10 straight days. We used it as a still camera, a video camera, an audio recorder and an intravolometer.

What stands out for me most about this camera is the power of subtle changes. Small ergonomic changes make it incredibly comfortable to hold. You can activate backlight on all of the buttons and controls, now you can see everything on the camera in the dark. The video controls are the best of any DSLR I have seen, and I think I have seen them all. Audio, always a Nikon strength, is better than ever. They dominate this just like they do small flash.

The camera is amazing. The high ISO files exceeded my expectations, and after the D3S I had huge expectations! The new video and audio functions have transformed this camera into something beyond what we have seen before.

It is a rock solid, well crafted, easy to use machine. The menus are simple and elegant. The autofocus is extremely fast and accurate. The sensor delivers perfect, very sharp images.

I didn’t have any concerns about the technical, the Nikon engineers had taken care of that for me. I was free to concentrate on the creative, which is exactly as it should be.

We had a tight team of four.

Laura Heald. My creative partner in Straw Hat Visuals. She is everywhere on these projects. She shoots video and stills. Collects audio. Carries gear. She just makes things happen in the most positive way possible. When we get back to the studio she puts the pieces together. Having her on location making creative decisions is incredibly helpful both in the field and then in the edit bay because she has such a great feel for the material. She is the calm in the storm.

Andy Hancock. Our good friend and long time associate came to Istanbul for the first half of trip to help with the stills and video for the backstage video. Andy’s only been out of the country a few times, twice with us, and it’s great fun watching a Texas cowboy on the loose. If you meet Andy ask him if he remembers his first trip abroad., it’s a really good story.

Jana Erb joined us from Munich to do data management and run some of our robotics. Like Laura, Jana doesn’t understand the word no. Whatever needs to get done, she figures it out. Always in motion she is, as my good friend Paolo Frisson from Manfrotto says, “an EXPLOSION.” Although she was constantly scolding her mobile for it’s imprecision, she managed to navigate us seamlessly through the labyrinth of the city once known as Constantinople.

My job on these things is to do the connecting. I figure out what we need to do and keep pushing until we’re done. I do the lion’s share of the shooting both stills and video. I am in charge of quality control. In the edit process, I do the rough edits for concept and style. And then I try to stay out of Laura’s way until she is ready for me to weigh in on the final edit.

Things happen for a reason. We were ready to go. Spent seven hours packing 14 cases of gear. Left for the airport with plenty of time for our 3 p.m. flight home. We got to the counter, nobody there. Jana took off to find her gate for the flight to Munich. Laura found an agent. We missed the flight out of Istanbul. I had looked at the wrong flight. Back to the city, tired, cranky and annoyed at what this was going to do to our post production schedule -which was too tight.

We got to the hotel. Checked back in. Rescheduled our flights. And went for a walk. Two cameras for me.  Laura took her beloved P7000.  Headed into the center of the old city for an hour. We got lost. Ended up walking for seven hours, slowly covering 12 kilometers, and we made my favorite images of the trip.

Lost and slow. Lovely way to see a new city.

You can see more from Bill on the Nikon D4 over at, see his work at, and follow him on Twitter.

Hey everyone, it’s time for the second ever Free Stuff Thursday! Brad Moore here to let you know about some discounts and give away a free pass to…

The Digital Photo Workshops
The Digital Photo Workshops are kicking off in Death Valley with Rick Sammon, February 23-26! These 3-day, weekend workshops are designed to sharpen your skills behind the camera and in the digital darkroom through hands-on, one-on-one training to photographers and hobbyists who want to become better digital photographers. Just leave a comment here for your chance to win a free pass!

You can register over at (NAPP members get $100 off!), and check the schedule for more workshops with Joe McNally, Dave Black, and Ben Willmore.

70% Off David Ziser DVD From Kelby Training
If you’re a wedding photographer or thinking of becoming one, here’s a kick butt deal! David Ziser’s Wedding Photography Rapid-Fire Tips & Tricks DVD is 70% off at the book and DVD store. Renowned wedding photographer David Ziser has over 25 years of experience – and a lot of his best practices are in this DVD. Grab a copy today and put his experience to work for you. Only $14.99 while supplies last.

Photoshop Elements 10 for Digital Photographers
In case you haven’t heard, Scott & Matt’s new Photoshop Elements 10 Book for Digital Photographers will be here soon and we’re taking pre-orders. Reserve your copy here!

NAPP Renewal = Scott Kelby Extra Mega Bundle!
If you’re a member of NAPP, you can get the Scott Kelby Extra Mega Bundle free if you renew your membership before 1-13-12 at noon ET. Check out the January edition of Newswire for details.

Kelby Training Live
Photography & Photoshop CS5: From Focus to Finished with Ben Willmore is coming to Oklahoma City on January 25!

Just a couple days later, Dave Cross is bringing The Photographers Photoshop CS5 Power User Tour to Covington, KY on January 27.

And then on January 30, Scott Kelby will be in Austin, TX with his Light It. Shoot It. Retouch It. Live Tour!

You can find more info, and sign up for these seminars and more over at

Last Week’s Winner
And, lastly… The winner of the free ticket to Photo Pro Expo in Cincinnati on February 2-5 is… Todd Boone! Congratulations Todd, you were the person the random number generator picked :)

Leave a comment for your chance to win this week’s giveaway, a free pass to The Digital Photo Workshop in Death Valley with Rick Sammon February 23-26!

Photo by John Michael Cooper

First of all, what the heck am I doing posting on Scott Kelby’s blog? I haven’t shot for any major magazines. No advertising jobs have come my way. I’m not involved in any speaking circuits or training seminars. Haven’t published any DVDs about lighting. So basically, there’s a pretty good chance you have no idea who I am.

Although this may or may not be true, I am determined to make sure that you know who I am through my work, whether it is sooner or later. My determination to succeed has got me this far into my career and I only see it bringing much more success as time passes. I always say to myself “I have to succeed. I have no choice otherwise.” But I also know that it takes a lot of hard work and time.

Tim MacMillan, a NYC playwright, photographed in a bar in Queens, NY

I come from a graphic design career of 10 years. I used to work for my family’s bread manufacturing company on Long Island. Sounds exciting, right? NOPE. Not so much. Not for me anyway. It did pay my bills, put a roof over my head and food on the table though. It was a comfortable job but it wasn’t fulfilling my creativity in a way that I needed. So about 9 or 10 years ago I picked up my first digital camera and started shooting landscapes and abstract/macro type stuff. It was fun but I still wasn’t really happy with my photography. This is mostly due to the fact that I had absolutely no clue what I was doing with a camera. Then it happened. I created my first portrait and fell in love with photography.

A composite photo of Korn

From that point on I have been studying portraiture and the technicalities of photography. I figured that if I could get such a great reaction to such a bad photo, imagine what people would say about a decent portrait or…dare I say…a great portrait. My research into photography brought awareness of many great photographers, many of which have posted here on this blog. I became a member of NAPP, read tons of magazines, attended a bunch of workshops, and kept creating portraits of anyone who would get in front of my camera.

Tommy Sica of Sweet Cyanide (NYC) photographed in my studio

I attended a seminar at PhotoPlus in New York City. All I knew going into this seminar was that it was based on portraiture. I didn’t know who the speaker was or what he has done in his career. I was immediately blown away by his unique take on how portraiture. He told stories of his conversations with his subjects and how he photographed some of the most important people in the world. I was inspired. The photographer I’m speaking of is Platon. If you don’t know who he is, stop reading this post and Google his work. Go on. I’ll still be here when you’re done.

Bill Wenner, my uncle, photographed in my studio

NYC actor Doug Drucker (Law & Order: SVU). Yes, they’re real

From that point on I’ve been working my butt off to create compelling portraits. I put up a website, blogged a little bit, and posted photos on Facebook. My work was starting to get recognized by local musicians and actors (a.k.a. potential paying clients). I took the advice of a friend and kept my pricing low in order to get paid gigs while developing my skills. The only reason I was able to keep my pricing low was because I was still working for the bread company. But guess what, all those low paying gigs got me more work. I was developing my skills as a portrait photographer and shooting often.

Tavish O’Keefe, NYC actor and model, photographed in his Brooklyn apartment

As time went on I was able to put together a decent portfolio of portraits, which consisted of mostly bands and models. I signed up for a portfolio review event and got my portfolio in front of 10 different art directors and photo editors. Looking back on it, I now know that I was nowhere near the point of putting my portfolio in front of Rolling Stone, Esquire, Sony, and Island Def Jam but I did it anyway. The critiques that I got from those reviewers however were more valuable than any workshop, blog post, or magazine that I ever read. I want to shoot for these companies so it was important to know what they thought of my work, what they liked, disliked and why they felt that way. After my reviews I went back to the drawing board and decided I had to push even harder to succeed.

A Polaroid from a shoot with The Como Brothers Band

I kept shooting bands, actors and model test shoots. My work was getting technically better and I started to get more emotion and interaction in my portraits. Then I got a phone call from one of the creative directors from that portfolio review event I mentioned. It was Roadrunner Records and they wanted me to shoot Dream Theater. I have to be honest with you, I had no clue who the band was, but I immediately took the job. I researched everything about Dream Theater and found out they are a big deal around the world. This made me pretty nervous, but that research was important for me to get to know whom I was shooting. I spent the day in the recording studio with the band, shooting documentary while they recorded their new album and got to shoot some portraits as well. I was most interested in the portraits that day, since that’s what I do, so I really pushed myself to create the best work I could. The record label loved the work and those photos have been seen by millions of people around the world. That still blows my mind.

Dream Theater at Cove City Studios. Each portrait was shot separately and then composited together in Photoshop

Portrait of Jordan Rudess, keyboard player for Dream Theater

I was still working a full time job at my family’s company and my photography business was picking up to almost a full time job. I kept the graphic design job because it was paying my bills but I really loved my photography work. I was extremely fortunate to be able to change my working hours at the company so that I could split my days between my two jobs. This change was the best thing I could do to move my business forward. I was able to work more on my personal project, “One Question”, and meet with potential clients at more reasonable times for consultations and photo shoots.

Portraits from my One Question series. “What does music mean to you?”

About two years passed as I split my days between the bread company and my photography business. I was getting progressively busier each month. After a couple years of splitting my time between the two, I decided that it was time for me to leave my job as a graphic designer. As much as I wanted to leave that job, it was still very hard to do. It was a comfortable job and paid well. Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do in order to be happy. I left that job 6 months ago.

I shot this hanging out the back of my SUV while a friend drove his custom motorcycle over Robert Moses Bridge in Long Island

Portrait of Lindsay who was diagnosed with Alopecia, a disease where hair is lost very quickly

Since I went full time with my photography, I’ve been working harder than ever to be successful and keep a roof over my head. I still take on personal projects because I feel that it helps me improve my skills and create work that I’m not getting hired to do yet. Some examples of personal work that I’ve shot is the biker riding over a Long Island bridge, the portrait of my friend Lindsay who has alopecia, and the owner of a high end antique & art store in The Waldorf Astoria Hotel in NYC. These portraits were a lot of fun to create and they’ve also helped me get more work creating similar portraits for new clients. I’m currently working on a personal portrait project that I think is going to be the best one I’ve created yet. I am not releasing any information about it just yet, so keep an eye on my Twitter and blog for updates on that.

David Assoulin, owner of Elliot Stevens Ltd., in his antique & art store in The Waldorf Astoria Hotel NYC

So after almost 10 years with a camera in my hand, I’m starting to shoot what I want to. I emphasize the word “starting” because I know there is still a lot of work to be done. I still haven’t had any major movie stars in front of my camera (you reading this De Niro?). I haven’t created a portrait of the biggest musician yet (preferably Jay-Z or The Black Keys). I’m still working on getting my first big advertising campaign. I know that as long as I keep saying to myself, “I have to succeed. I have no choice otherwise.” those jobs will come soon. Work hard and you will get what you want!

Portrait of Eric B., a Long Island hip hop artist, in a dirty bus stop

Photo of NY rock band The Given Motion

I think I’ve talked enough here on Kelby’s blog. If you made it to the end of this post, I thank you for allowing me to waste some of your time. I am incredibly appreciative of Brad and Scott allowing me to talk about my work and how I’ve made it to this point in my career. Scott’s blog is one that I’ve read daily for a very long time, so this is a honor. Thank you.


You can see more of Rick’s work at, keep up with him on his blog, and find him on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Tumblr.

Today at 10am, 12pm, 2pm, and 4pm EST, join Matt Kloskowski and Lightroom Product Manager Tom Hogarty for the unveiling of The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 Beta!

Tune in at to get the scoop on all the latest features, enhancements, and updates from one of the leading experts on Lightroom, and the person who oversees its development, and get some of your questions answered.

You can download and check out the Lightroom 4 Beta right here, and check out the NAPP Lightroom Beta 4 Launch Center, and get more details over at Matt’s blog,!